UNAC/UHCP Members Testify

May 2015

In March and April, UNAC/UHCP members were busy testifying and speaking out on important issues that affect our daily working conditions and prevent the decimation of unions.

Members testified far and wide — before US Congress in DC, the Health and Human Services Budget Subcommittee in Sacramento, and at a Cal/OSHA hearing in Oakland. We are proud of our members for taking a stand and positively impacting workplace issues and protections. Here are a few highlights of those testimonies and some information on what you can do to help those efforts:



UNAC/UHCP member Brenda Crawford, RN, spoke in favor of fairer union election procedures at a hearing in the US House of Representatives. Crawford, who along with her coworkers worked to form a union at her hospital in Southern California, told a House subcommittee March 4 that federal rules intended to make union election procedures more fair to workers should be allowed to take effect in April.

Crawford is now a UNAC/UHCP member as a registered nurse in the labor and delivery unit at Kaiser Riverside

Crawford sat before the House subcommittee and explained the need for new rules by citing her own experiences trying to build a union at Universal Health Systems Inc. in Murrieta where she has been employed for the past 21 years. She participated in an organizing drive that ultimately failed after the employer “ran a relentless anti-union campaign” that began even before workers filed an election petition. “All we wanted was to have a fair opportunity to vote on whether or not to form a union,” she said.

“The company was able to manipulate the election procedure to delay the election date, and communicated with the workers in a way the union could not,” she testified. “I am sure that the election results did not reflect the RNs’ desire to join together to collectively bargain with our employer.”

Through her testimony, Crawford demonstrated the need for improved union election rules. The election rules took effect April 14.



On March 9, UNAC/UHCP members testified before the Health and Human Services Budget Subcommittee in Sacramento about the importance of prioritizing funding to improve statewide staffing ratios. Registered nurses Teresa Casteen, Lisa Haughey, and Megan Joyce provided the panel with personal experiences that illustrated the risks of inadequate staffing within hospitals.

Their testimony emphasized that this ongoing hazard not only threatens patient safety, but also severely limits the quality of care a nurse is able to provide. This created concern amongst the legislators present, prompting them to question the California Department of Public Health’s current accountability mechanisms.

By testifying, our members demonstrated the need for better ratio enforcement through increased state funding and improved oversight. As hospitals continue to fall short on staffing requirements, please continue to fill out staffing objections and turn them in to our local officers, staff representatives or the UNAC/UHCP office.



On April 1, UNAC/UHCP members testified at a Cal/OSHA hearing on draft workplace violence prevention regulations currently being crafted. Workplace violence is a critical issue for nurses and other health care workers in the hospital, and the regulations developed here in California could impact how the entire country addresses this pervasive problem.

UNAC/UHCP members provided crucial testimony as the draft regulations are taking shape, sharing stories of how on-the-job violence has impacted them. Their stories will help strengthen the coming regulations for optimal violence prevention.

UNAC/UHCP RN Rosa Carcamo testified about the need to broaden language in regulations that defined weapons. Marilen Castanon, RN, also testified, suggesting workplace bullying be added to the list of reportable incidents. Kef Workie, RN, a UNAC/UHCP member from a Los Angeles hospital, addressed Cal/OSHA to talk about working in an isolated condition and the attack he experienced while alone in a room with a patient. Liz Hawkins, RN, added to Workie’s testimony, telling her own story and of the need to have enforceable staffing ratios to ensure our safety.

To support the efforts of UNAC/UHCP and these incredible member representatives, please sign our petition urging Cal/OSHA to take immediate steps to address workplace violence: www.unacuhcp.org/calosha